2019 Google My Business Year In Review And Industry Predictions For 2020

If 2019 taught us nothing else, we learned that in addition to continuous updates that shape the way search results are ranked, Google is willing to test many changes to Google My Business (GMB). This is critical since Google continues to rely heavily on GMB content for ranking signals.

We’ve scoured the list of tests and updates from Search Engine Land to provide a summary that highlights the changes with the most impact on business owners. And, what would a new year (and a new decade) be without an exploration of anticipated changes in local ranking factors and industry predictions?

2019 Year in Review

January: Message This Business – Google tested a prominent “Message This Business” button in the local panel to emphasize messaging in the Google My Business profile. Google later ended SMS-based messaging support, requiring business owners to download the GMB app to use this functionality.

Source: Local SEO and Search Engine Land columnist Joy Hawkins

February: Local Spam Reporting – Google launched the Business Redressal Complaint Form to report fraudulent activity for Google Local, Maps and Google My Business. This complaint form can be used to report suspected spam for business names, phone numbers and business URLs. Currently, this form cannot be used to report fake reviews.

March: GMB Removes Addresses for Service Area Businesses – For service area businesses, Google removed the full address from the Knowledge Panel in search and the information section of the GMB profile.

April: Google My Business Paid Services Survey – Currently, Google My Business is a free platform provided by Google to encourage accurate information displayed on Google listings. In April, some local businesses received a survey to ask which tools in the GMB platform they used the most and if they would be willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for them. Some of the package options included verified reviews, instant quotes and business profile videos.

Source:  Google

June: Google My Business Introduces Branding Tools – In June, Google announced new branding and promotional tools that included a number of GMB features designed to encourage local businesses to claim their profiles. Google also launched a new marketing kit site that allows users to create promotional assets such as stickers, posters and social posts.

August: Bulk Review Management – In August, Google announced the ability for businesses to view, reply to and flag reviews for multiple listings simultaneously within the “Manage Reviews” section of Google My Business. This feature is available for location groups with 500 or fewer locations and is not available for organization accounts.

December: Request Quotes on Mobile – In December, GMB product expert, Tom Waddington discovered that Google was testing a new “Request Quotes” button on mobile. This button is available to businesses currently using the Local Services Ads program, which requires them to be Google Guaranteed. To receive the guarantee, a business must undergo various levels of screening including business owner background checks, license checks and business insurance checks.

Source:  Tom Waddington

Local Ranking Factors in 2019

In a study conducted by Local SEO Guide in conjunction with Places Scout and statistical consultant Megan Smith at the University of California, Irvine, 200,000 local businesses were researched to determine similarities in Google’s ranking in 2019. Overall, it was found that there weren’t many major changes in ranking factors. Having prominent reviews and linking profiles with adequate geographic and category keywords are still the most important aspect of ranking in local search results.

According to this study, some of the categorical variables that correlate to high local rankings are:

  • having a physical address in the city being searched
  • including a profile photo
  • having keywords that are within primary GMB listings categories

What Can We Expect in 2020?

BrightLocal reached out to industry experts to get their predictions on what 2020 holds for Local Search. The main predictions were:

  • Social Network – Although Google+ will most likely not be making a comeback, there are some speculations that some kind of social network may evolve to help increase user-generated content (photos, reviews, etc.). With user-generated content impacting a local business’ visibility and rankings (from reviews to suggested updates and beyond), active listening and the ability to respond quickly is going to drive greater visibility and more engagement.
  • Spam – Some industry experts think 2020 is the year that Google is going to catch more spam than ever in local listings and reviews.
  • Pay to Play and Ads – Many predictions suggest Local SEO will be moving more towards paid offerings, while others predict that Google Ads will continue to encroach on the Local SEO space, perhaps to the point where paid ads are the majority of the first page.


As we enter 2020, we can expect Google to test and update more tools in the Google My Business platform and across Google in general. As Google introduces new tools, it is important for business owners to stay abreast of the changes, keeping in mind that Google’s changes are usually relevant to helping local businesses increase visibility in search results. Be sure to subscribe to our industry updates for more information about upcoming changes within Google and how they will impact your business.

[News Release]: Eastport media agencies merge to form Mindstream Media Group

Mindstream Media Group
January 21, 2020
For Immediate Release

Eastport media agencies merge to form Mindstream Media Group

— Former Southwest Media Group President Eric Schaefer to lead new entity —


DALLAS, TX – Three Eastport Holdings agencies–Mindstream Media, Southwest Media Group and Digital Addix—have merged to create a full-solution, $500 million media agency under the name Mindstream Media Group. The new company will be headquartered in Dallas.

“With the intense pressures on today’s CMO to move business forward, there has never been a better time to bring together this level of talent under one unified group,” said Eric Schaefer, newly appointed CEO of Mindstream Media Group and former Southwest Media Group President. “Our media teams from these three companies have worked together over the years, making this a natural evolution. This merger will give us the opportunity to align our talent and full suite of national-to-local media capabilities as we service complex client needs across our offices.”

Mindstream Media Group’s new leadership team also includes Zac Keeney as President, Terry Tanner as Chief Operating Officer and Marti Janson as Chief Client Officer.

The three agencies bring together broad-scale brand media with customized local-level media solutions to drive sales results. Southwest Media Group brings 24 years of traditional and digital media strategy and execution to the combined organization across brands such as Gold’s Gym, Dillard’s, Fiesta Restaurant Group, W.M. Barr and Smoothie King. Mindstream Media and Digital Addix bring their own portfolios of national and international brands, including Samsung, Roto-Rooter, Sony and The UPS Store, to bolster the combined organization’s multichannel media solutions acumen.

Mindstream Media Group continues into 2020 as a Google Premier Partner, Facebook Marketing Partner, Microsoft Advertising Partner, Snapchat Certified Partner, dataxu/Roku Partner, Yext Certified Partner and a member of the 4A’s.

In addition to its Dallas headquarters, Mindstream Media Group operates offices across the United States in New York; San Diego; Milwaukee, St. Louis; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; Peoria, Illinois; and Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Fast-Forward Your Business


About Mindstream Media Group

Mindstream Media Group, a full-solution media agency, designs and executes sophisticated traditional and digital marketing strategies that deliver sales for national brands and their locations by growing brand awareness and generating qualified local leads. Read more at mindstreammediagroup.com.

About Eastport Holdings

Eastport Holdings owns and operates a diversified portfolio of companies focused on the advertising and media industry throughout North and South America. Eastport Holdings’ principals developed their experience over 30 years in media and marketing and 25 years of direct investments and corporate finance.